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Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

OPINION: Eight artists to listen to in celebration of Black History Month

Keira Lee / Hilltop Views
Artists like Smino, Amaarae and Teezo Touchdown are some of the most cutting-edge musicians of the decade.

This list contains eight artists who offer something outstanding to their genres in celebration of Black History Month. These artists use techniques that make them unique to the many artists of today. Here are some R&B/soul and hip-hop/rap artists to keep an eye on in the coming years.


Smino is from St. Louis, Missouri and has been shaking up the rap game with his delivery and production. His flows are unlimited, rapping effortlessly over any beat with his creative wordplay and charisma. Monte Booker’s production pairs perfectly with Smino’s style, creating the most infectious of sounds. Smino’s most recent project, “Luv 4 Rent,” shows the talent he possesses fitting in the most unique pockets of sound.


JID, also a hip-hop artist, has a plethora of flows and high-end production but consistently touches on deeper topics. These topics include violence in his hometown, Atlanta, Georgia, and family issues. JID unpacks what he has faced in his life and his journey through them –- journeys that have made him a better person and artist in the process. His most impressive performance is “The Forever Story” from 2022, where he tells his story through heavy lines that help you visualize the past. JID uses those experiences to push listeners to strive for the most in life.

Kenny Mason 

Kenny is new to the rap scene, as his earliest project came out in 2020. Kenny’s lyrical content is similar to JID as a rapper,but what sets him apart is his fusion of rock with hip-hop. Kenny has named Nirvana and My Bloody Valentine as some of his favorite bands during an “On The Radar Radio” interview. Kenny’s rock influence adds a huge element to his projects, creating its own soundscape. “6” is his most recent release and shows his artistry as a rockstar. Kenny’s taking a different approach to hip-hop compared to fellow Atlanta artists like Future and 21 savage. He’s harnessing rock’s energy and the rawness of rap creating a heavy atmosphere with deep topics. Kenny’s lyrical content is similar to JID also being an Atlanta rapper, but what sets him apart is his fusion of rock with hip-hop. 


Amaarae is from Bronx, New York but spent time growing up in Accra, Ghana. Her origins can be heard clearly as she fuses pop, rock and R&B into what she describes as “Afro-Fusion.” Amaarae’s seductive production is paired perfectly with her pitched-up voice that you can’t help but move along with. Her recent album, “Fountain Baby,” is one of the best from the past year — across all genres:  I highly recommend. Her unique fusion of genres and creativity create a sound unique to her with tracks like “Wasted Eyes” being a great example.

Ari Lennox 

Ari is from Washington, D.C, and is one of the best vocalists of the modern R&B scene. Her voice is reminiscent of early 2000s artists with her strong and soulful vocals. Ari’s most recent album, “age/sex/location,” touches on her desire for a relationship. She expresses dissatisfaction from past relationships and the men she meets. With this release she makes it clear that she has standards and won’t stoop low to be in a relationship. 

Teezo Touchdown 

Teezo is a local Texan from Beaumont that has been taking huge strides in music by doing features on Travis Scott’s and Drake’s albums. “How Do You Sleep At Night?” is Teezo’s debut album featuring multiple genres, most notably R&B. Teezo shows his innate understanding of melodies, as each track feels like it comes naturally to him. Teezo’s mission is to create his own sound, a sound he’s coined asRock & Boom, which is described as “R&B with the intensity of rock.” He is constantly finding ways to evolve his sound and image to create the star he is destined to become.


ODYSSY is the only Austin-based artist on this list, whose R&B sound is heavily influenced by neo-soul and funk. This fusion intoxicates the listener with the sensual production and flow he possesses. ODYSSY often talks about Black culture in America and the violence that black people face daily. In addition to these topics, he touches on love and lust on his newest album “Diamonds and Freaks.” ODYSSY shows his storytelling abilities as he paints a vivid story in each track with complementary production.

Jordan Ward 

Ward is a St. Louis native that has improved quickly over the last few years. He is an R&B singer-songwriter that has a smooth and soulful sound that leaves listeners with a nostalgic feeling. His recent record, “FORWARD,” talks about his determination to continue moving so that he can support his family. This record’s success has gained co-signs from artists like Tyler, The Creator, who applauded Ward’s ability to be himself and find success with it.

These eight artists are people that I see being the next greatest in our generation. They hold unlimited potential with their creativity and talent. Amaarae and Teezo Touchdown’s ability to pioneer new genres are clear examples of what I see in these artists: the future of R&B/soul and hip-hop/rap.

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